Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When you don't know what to pray

Sometimes I know exactly what I want to pray. Sometimes I can present God with a thought through, detailed list of exactly what I am pretty sure I need from him.

But sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I just don’t know what to pray. Sometimes things are too painful or confounding to be put into orderly coherent prayers. Sometimes I don’t understand what is going on in myself or others well enough to know what to ask.

I’ve been finding myself in don’t know what to pray situations a bit lately. When that happens I’ve been taking great comfort in what Paul has to say in Romans 8:26-27

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

I think there are two big encouragements here. One is that God is not distant from our problems. The spirit is interceding on our behalf! Pretty amazing to think that the members of the trinity are talking to each other about our problems! Another encouragement here is that whether we know and can coherently express what needs to be prayed for is not ultimately important. The spirit understands our hearts and the will of God even when we do not.

So when you pray, don’t panic that you do not know what to pray. Just pray however you are able and trust that God knows perfectly even when you express imperfectly. Trust that even when your prayers feel weak, the intercession of the spirit on your behalf is powerful.